Vegan loco moco

A loco moco. Make sure to remove plumeria flower before devouring.
A loco moco. Make sure to remove plumeria flower before devouring.

This food satisfies two cravings: to imagine I’m in a tropical place and to eat a pile of food. The answer? The loco moco.

Loco moco is a Hawaiian dish, traditionally consists of two scoops of rice, a hamburger patty, an egg, all topped with brown gravy. Yes, it’s heavy! I saw this on a lot of menus when I was living in Honolulu— but, sadly, didn’t get a chance to try it in a restaurant.

While this is easy enough to convert to vegetarian— swap out the hamburger for a veggie burger, use veggie stock to make the gravy— I got to thinking. How would this be converted vegan? Leaving the egg off altogether seemed like cheating. So I substituted the egg for a little scrambled tofu.

The veggie burger pictured is Michigan-made Ope’s, which just happens to be gluten-free. I also used brown rice, in an attempt to pretend I was eating something healthy. If you want an even healthier loco moco, check out this recipe from Down to Earth, Honolulu’s all vegetarian grocery store.

Vegan, gluten-free loco moco

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


1 veggie burger patty (your choice)
1 cup brown rice (uncooked)
1/4 pound tofu (or one egg)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp onion powder

For the gravy:
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup rice flour
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ginger (grated)
1-2 cloves garlic (pressed)
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Cook the rice. (I use a rice cooker.)
2. While the rice is cooking, mix the turmeric and onion powder together. Crumble the tofu, with a fork or your hands, and mix with the spices until evenly coated.
3. Fry the tofu as you would for a tofu scramble.
4. Cook the veggie burger, according to box directions and preferences.
5. When the tofu and burger are done, top the burger with the tofu, and put the plate in the oven to keep it warm.
6. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. While the oil is heating, have the vegetable stock warming on medium low. (Warm stock will make mixing in the flour easier.)
7. In small spoonfuls, slowly whisk in the flour, making sure that the flour doesn’t burn.
8. When the flour and oil have combined completely, slowly pour in the vegetable stock, stirring constantly. Make sure to smooth out any lumps.
9. Add in the ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Continue stirring for another 5-10 minutes, until you get the consistency you want.
10. Scoop out two scoops of rice.
11. Top the whole thing with gravy, and serve and consume immediately.

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